zones semi-arides

Two new species of gecko described from revision of marbled velvet gecko (Oedura marmorata) species complex

In a recently released paper, two new species of Australian gecko have been described and another resurrected from a species complex distributed widely across the arid zones of the continent. The rocky arid areas of Australia offer many opportunities for discovering unknown species diversity for two reasons: they are often remote and hard to access and have therefore not been exposed to as much scientific exploration, and because rocky areas often form islands of preferred habitat, organisms living in them are more likely to form distinct, non-interbreeding populations that eventually diverge to form new species.

Velvet geckos in the genus Oedura are arboreal or saxicoline (living on rocks) lizards with a high diversity of species in the northern monsoonal tropics. In contrast, the diversity in the arid zones is very low, having been represented by only one broadly distributed species, the marbled velvet gecko (O. marmorata). Previous genetic work has revealed four distinct lineages amongst this one species, and in this recent paper, further evidence of separate species has been found in the form of morphological differences.

As a result, the name Oedura cincta has been resurrected from synonym to describe the Central and Eastern groups, and populations from the Gulf country and Western Australia have been named O. bella and O. fimbria respectively. Evidence points to further diversity existing in this genus, with more species likely to be described in the following years

The above images show the diversity of the O. marmorata complex, with A) O. cincta from the Winton Region, Qld; B) O. cincta from Danggalli Conservation Park, SA; C) O. cincta from Simpson’s Gap, NT; D) O. cincta hatchling from Simpson’s Gap, NT; E) O. bella sp. nov. from Doomadgee area, Qld; F) O. bella sp. nov. from near Mt. Isa, Qld; G) O. fimbria sp. nov. from Little Sandy Desert, WA; H) O. fimbria sp. nov. from Pannawonnica, WA.

Oliver, P. M. and Doughty, P. (2016). Systematic revision of the marbled velvet geckos (Oedura marmorata species complex, Diplodactylidae) from the Australian arid and semi-arid zones. Zootaxa 40888 (2), 151 - 176.